I'm a Canadian girl from Vancouver who studied in Paris in 2011-2012. I did a lot of travelling in France and in Europe generally. These are my photos, my observations, and my stories.

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Je suis canadienne de Vancouver qui a étudié à Paris en 2011-2012. J'avais beaucoup voyagé en France et en Europe ; voici mes photos, mes remarques et mes histoires.

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Check the "Index of City Tags" page to browse my posts by city/country.

Regardez la page « Index of City Tags » si vous voulez trier mes postes par ville / pays d'origine.

January 5th
12:00
War-damaged building beside the Miljacka River in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

War-damaged building beside the Miljacka River in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

December 7th
12:01

Bullet holes in buildings in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 2012.

November 11th
05:40

Sarajevo Roses in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

Sarajevo Roses were what brought me to the Balkans in the first place.

If you’re unaware of the Sarajevo Roses, they are the remains of mortar explosions on the sidewalks of Sarajevo. In the cases where these shells resulted in someone’s death, the holes in the sidewalk were filled in with red plaster, creating sort of a flower-shape.

As you can see, most of the Roses above are no longer red; over time the colour has faded and some pieces have been chipped away. The war ended 16 years ago. As the city of Sarajevo is being repaired, the Roses are disappearing.

I learned about the Sarajevo Roses when I was doing a project on the dissolution of Yugoslavia in school (which is also when I first got interested in the Balkans). I was extremely sad that this piece of history was disappearing and these Roses would soon be gone forever.

I really, really wanted to see a Sarajevo Rose before they were all gone. But at the time I was only 16, my family had no money for any kind of travel, and I thought that it would be several years before I could ever go abroad, so I thought that I would never get the chance. This actually depressed me very deeply. I was already captivated by the story of the siege of Sarajevo.

Four years later, through amazing luck, I was able to study in France. This was an enormous shock to me, since I hadn’t thought I’d be able to go abroad until at least a few years after university, but all the factors had aligned in my favour, and I had this amazing opportunity.

Near the end of the year, I was reading about the Bosnian War again, and I saw another picture of a Sarajevo Rose. The possibility of going there hadn’t occurred to me before, but suddenly it was all I could think about: Sarajevo was in Europe. I was now in Europe. I could go to Sarajevo. I could see a Sarajevo Rose before they all disappeared.

As the end of my time abroad got closer, I began to make plans. At first I thought I would only visit Sarajevo, but it was expensive to fly there, so I started looking at other airports in the area. I decided on Budapest. But to get from Budapest to Sarajevo, I might as well stop in some places along the way, right? And I learned that Kosovo was actually open to travelers, so of course I had to go there, too. Eventually my plans for this one little trip to Sarajevo turned into a major, two-and-a-half-week journey through most of the Balkans.

My family in France (whom I was staying with while at school) were very unhappy that I had decided to spend my last month in Europe and all my remaining money in the Balkans. They thought it was dangerous, and asked me why I wouldn’t like I nice trip to Italy or Spain instead.

I was extremely firm because I had to see it for myself. I wanted to see a Rose, I wanted to see Sarajevo and Kosovo and the scars that remained from the war before all of it disappeared. I’m from Canada; there has not been a war on our own territory for almost two hundred years. I needed to see what had happened in the former Yugoslavia to understand this violence that was so foreign to me.

My family still thought I was crazy and they told me so. They thought it sounded like a stupid idea, going all the way to Bosnia, a former war zone, because I had some romantic notion of seeing a Sarajevo Rose before they were gone. But it turned into an experience that literally changed my life.

October 15th
11:10

Abandoned, war-damaged buildings in Mostar. They were on the edge of a park and I guess once they were abandoned they were just “reclaimed” by the shrubbery. 

The creepy thing is that right next door are completely restored houses that people are currently living in. This is just a little pocket of war damage that was never repaired, surrounded by totally normal suburbs.

I originally intended to explore these houses a bit more, since they still contained rotting furniture and whatever the former occupants left behind, but I was still pretty shaken from wandering around in a snipers’ nest earlier that same day - then I was startled in one of the houses by a LARGE snake darting out from under the furniture, so… I nope’d right out of there and left this one alone.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

October 14th
11:24
Ruined houses next to restored houses in Mostar. Viewed from the building formerly used as a snipers’ nest.
Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

Ruined houses next to restored houses in Mostar. Viewed from the building formerly used as a snipers’ nest.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

October 13th
11:47
View of Mostar from halfway up an abandoned building used as a snipers’ nest in the war.
Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

View of Mostar from halfway up an abandoned building used as a snipers’ nest in the war.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

October 12th
11:39
War-ruined building in Mostar.
Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

War-ruined building in Mostar.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 12 June 2012.

August 27th
14:33

I went to a snipers’ nest in Bosnia.

While in Mostar, the largest city of the Herzegovina region in Bosnia-Herzegovina, I visited a ruined building used as a snipers’ nest during the war. That’s it, the tall building in the photo above. Apparently it used to be a bank.

It was actually a local girl who told me to have a look. “There’s lots of cool graffiti in there,” she advised. “Also, you can pick up some bullet shells. There are still some bullet shells in the upper levels from the snipers.”

I had my private reservations about that part, since the war was nearly twenty (!!) years ago, but hey, why not have a look? This is Bosnia, this is the Balkans. War-damaged buildings halfway to collapse usually aren’t even fenced off. You can walk right into the ugly parts of their history, just help yourself. They don’t even charge admission.

Sure, it looks like just any other abandoned building on the inside, but this place was eerie. Just… really, really eerie.

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July 19th
11:49

Damage of government buildings from the 1999 NATO bombing campaign (part of the Kosovo War) in Belgrade, Serbia.